While many (most?) mysteries remain unsolved, Lost's series finale "The End" was, nonetheless, satisfying because it didn't purport to have all the answers. Instead, viewers were comforted with just one: If you live together, you won't die alone.
Maybe I loved the finale so much because it validated one of my theories—giving me a Tracy Flick "ME!" moment—a theory I proposed early on in the season: Bardos, aka, death cycles. (I'd thought that the Island was what the Losties had dreamed up for their bardo phase, when it was actually the sideways universe that was the dream.) But mostly, I loved the finale for its emotional aspects, which could've come off as schmaltzy, but didn't. I usually go for the mythology and geek shit, but I couldn't help but feel incredibly emotionally tied to the show's characters, and I think the writers did a great job in recognizing how important to fans these ties would be, while also not robbing us of the most fun aspect of the show—coming up with our own theories about what just happened.
Anyway, moving on…a component of Tibetan Buddhism, bardos are the different phases the deceased experience between dying and rebirth. It's a dream-like reality, created by the "awareness" (or a soul) that is freed from the body upon death. Because of the disconnect of the awareness from the physical body, the deceased doesn't immediately realize that he or she is dead. In the different bardo phases, the "awareness" needs guidance—from different deities, or, you know, guides (hello, Desmond)—to attain enlightenment, i.e., realize that they're dead. A karmic mirror (remember all those mirrors?) is held up to the deceased so that s/he can reflect and eventually recognize. Once this happens—and it can happen in any of the bardo phases, depending on how much emotional baggage a person has packed for the afterlife—the deceased achieves Nirvana, and can "move on." Depending on your belief system, this can be heaven, reincarnation, or some kind of simulated reality, like Eloise Hawking for herself and her son. The final scenes in last night's episode showed Jack's first and final bardo phases, occurring simultaneously. (Because time is no longer relative.)
Let's begin in the sideways universe/bardo realm. This, apparently, was the place that the Losties had created to reconnect with each other after they had all died. (It's a lot like that episode of Little House that Sawyer watched, in which Pa tells Laura that the people that you loved in your life don't go away, even when they die.) It was then their duty to help each other realize that they were dead, enabling them to move on. This happened in various ways, sort of recreating pivotal events and familiar feelings from their lives. Like Kate helping Claire deliver her baby.
Isn't it funny that Claire's vagina is what enlightened Kate? She was like, "I recognize this puffy chucky."
And seeing mother and child brought it all back for Charlie.
Sayid's motivation to protect Shannon brought them back together.
Which was orchestrated by Hurley and Boone.
Locke regaining feeling in his feet again is what helped him remember, while Juliet performing a sonogram on Sun enlightened the Kwons. (And helped them remember that they speak English.)
Oh, and speaking of Juliet, she was Jack's ex-wife (and mother to his son) in the sideways universe. (More on that in a bit.)
When Juliet and Sawyer touched one another's hands, they instantly remembered.
There were actually several key moments about this scene:
1.) Did anyone else notice that the Apollo bar that Sawyer bought sat at #23? (Which was also the number of Desmond's table at the concert.)
2.) When Juliet died in the first episode this season, she was drifting in and out of consciousness, talking about going dutch on coffee, and most importantly, saying—in death, via Miles' communication with her—that "it worked." The collective thought at the time was that she meant that the hydrogen bomb had worked, creating this alternate timeline. However, she was just verbalizing the flirty conversation that she was having with Sawyer in her bardo, discussing the vending machine.
3.) As Sawyer was trying to get his candy out of the vending machine, Juliet told him about a "trick" she knew, saying, "You have to unplug it and plug it back in." That's actually a really common fix to many of life's problems, namely, my internet router. But also, it applies to the heart of the Island.
So now we know the importance of Desmond, and it all goes back to the Hatch. As Jack and Mocke lowered Desmond down the glory hole, Mocke mentioned the similarities of that incident to when they first peered down the Hatch hole. (Even though Mocke stole that memory from Locke.) The camera angles were even very similar.
It would seem that Desmond had to push that button in the Swan station for three years so that he could prepare for this moment. He was building up his resistance to electromagnetic energy, which was basically what was corked up in the glory hole. And just like he had used the fail safe key in the Hatch, he was the fail safe key for the heart of the Island. He needed to be the person to reboot it.
To me, the heart of the Island looked like a butthole after buffalo wings pass through.
Anyway, once Desmond uncorked it, the Island temporarily lost its "magic." This meant that Mocke was now mortal, as evidenced by the blood he spilled after Jack clocked him.
There was no other way to kill Mocke unless that butt plug was removed. It would seem that Jacob hoped this would be a last resort, and that his brother wouldn't have to die. I have to say that this was one of the best action scenes I've ever witnessed on network television.
Now the neck and abdomen wounds in the sideways universe make sense. They were his death scars. Once Mocke was killed, the Island needed its butt plug replaced to reignite the "magic." Jack took on this task, knowing he would die anyway, as he believed it all to be his destiny. And then it became clear that Hurley was the true candidate all along.
After Hurley was inducted into the secret society of Island protectors, Jack replaced the butt plug and saved the world. But he also saved everyone else on the Island, something for which he always had a boner. And thus, he saved himself.
I have to say that I loved the exchange between Hurley and Ben, as Hurley became the new Jacob and Ben became the new Richard.
It was fitting because Ben had done many things for which he wanted to repent, and, like Richard before him, he now would have time to do that. Speaking of Richard, he's alive! And aging! Now that his duties to the Island have come to an end, he discovered his first gray hair, freeing him from eternity and allowing him to move on.
Lapidus is also alive. After surviving a sub explosion and drifting in the ocean for a few days, he was ready to get the fuck off that Island.
Miles, Richard, and Lapidus all returned to the Ajira plane, and performed some magic of their own. I don't know how safe I would feel flying in a plane literally held together with duct tape.
Kate, Sawyer, and Claire (who was having a meltdown on the beach before finally agreeing to rejoin society, and, hopefully, wash that hair) showed up just in time for take off.
I know that Richard has made off-Island trips here and there over the years, but it was always all business. Wait until he inevitably discovers internet porn.
Before moving on, here are some other notables about last night. We got to see Eloise.
And Dr. Chang.
And Daniel and Charlotte.
Why is she a vampire?
Speaking of monsters, Miss J would refer to Claire as a no-neck monster.
Also, as annoying as I found Kate to be for most of the series, I was really happy that a chick saved the day.
Also, we learned that Rose, Bernard and Vincent time traveled to 2007 with everyone else, and because their little camp was so tucked away on the Island, it had been preserved for the 30 years that they were not there. So they were fine. Everything was the same. Rose was still an asshole.
OK, so let's bring it back around to where we started (which is exactly how Lost resolved) with the bardo cycle. Jack went to the church where everyone was gathering. (The same church that was the DHARMA Lamp Post station that housed Eloise's sorcery science dungeon.) But things were sort of different there. For one thing, it was multi-denominational.
As soon as Jack touched his father's coffin he began remembering his life (I sort of wished that Celine Dion's "It's All Coming Back to Me Now" began playing. Because it's a good song.) And then his father appeared.
And that's when Jack became enlightened. His dad's speech sort of explained everything. Is this real life? No. It's real death.
I know that some fans were still confused. Like, why would Jack have a son in the sideways universe? My theory is that the baggage that Jack took with him to the sideways universe were his daddy issues (a common and major theme of Lost). He sorta took care of the needing to fix things thing back when he was still alive. His major issue, in his death cycle, was his relationship with his father. Many people say that when you have your own children, you begin to heal from your own childhood and your issues with how you were raised. (Or at least, that's what Madonna told Oprah after she had Lourdes.) But it makes sense. Once you become a parent, you begin to have a better understanding of what your parents went through. You learn to forgive them of their mistakes and (hopefully) rectify them by putting an end to certain patterns and cycles. And it was at this point—when he found the baggage he'd brought on that second Oceanic flight—that Jack finally let go.
In the church, the important people from Jack's life—who were finally at peace with their lives and what had occurred—had gathered, to move on, as a unit, to spend their death as they should've spent their lives: together.
Back on the Island, we saw Jack stumbling from his wounds, past his father's bloody, white tennis shoe, to collapse in the place where it all began for him on the Island. As he looked up at the sky, he saw the Ajira plane fly above his head, and he looked fulfilled. And just as Jack was taking his final breaths, Vincent emerged from the trees, to sit with him, so he wouldn't have to die alone.
Anything that involves dogs always makes me cry.
During the credits, we saw the wreckage from the original Oceanic 815 on the beach. And some footprints. I don't think it had any meaning other than that: a footprint. It symbolized that they were there.
Because a part of the shared human experience—which is basically what the entire show boiled down to—is that we want to leave our mark, so that people know that we'd been here. (I mean, that was the point of all the different shit, like the statue, and hieroglyphs and the empty Dharma barracks. They were all just footprints of the people who had been on the Island before.) And a large part of that, of leaving a footprint, or a mark, is to establish a basic need: To know that we matter.
This show was fucking awesome.